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Published for customers of

“We Keep You Connected”


Counselors share prep tips for parents and students


Couple celebrates 74 years of matrimony


A tour of cities’ famous civil rights sites


Rural Connections


ith so many issues impacting the future of telecommunications, it is important that our nation’s independent and cooperative providers speak with a unified voice to lawmakers and regulators. NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association has long been that voice in Washington, D.C. As 2015 drew to a close, NTCA’s board of directors created a strategic plan to help guide us through 2016 and beyond. This plan reaffirms our vision and mission, and sets goals that reflect a desire to continue our outstanding grassroots efforts to shape public policy, to build on and improve our top-notch programs and, of course, to communicate with member telcos like yours about changes that affect their company, our industry and ultimately, the service they provide you. Your telco had a voice in this process, and that means you had a voice, too. I therefore wanted to share a few parts of our strategic plan with you, in order to highlight the focus and commitment to

With the help of your telco, NTCA charts a course for 2016 By Shirley Bloomfield, CEO, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association excellence that your telco and its partners demonstrate as they work hard to bring quality telecommunications to rural America.


Our Core Purpose The mission of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is to promote and sustain advanced communications services in rural America by supporting the viability and vitality of our members.


Our Picture of the Ideal Future To be widely recognized as the premier national advocate and essential partner for small, rural, community-based communications providers.


Outcomes on the Path to Achieving Our Vision ADVOCACY AND LEADERSHIP Lead and shape industry change for the

Lifeline Landline phone OR cell phone

Not both! 2 | January/February 2016

benefit of rural telecommunications providers and consumers. COMMUNICATION & EDUCATION Broaden the scope of education and communication opportunities to our membership. MEMBERSHIP VALUE Sustain, market and expand benefits to our membership. OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCIES Enhance operational efficiencies for opportunities to maximize the organization’s ability to be more flexible and nimble. In the coming months, NTCA will implement steps to achieve these goals. I will continue to keep you updated on industry activity at the national level, which may impact you and your community. As I do, know that your needs and concerns are at the forefront of NTCA’s work as we continue to represent the collective voice of telcos like yours. 

Do you qualify for the federal Lifeline program? If so, you need to know that the credit, which helps you pay for a phone connection, can only be applied to one service at a time. You can apply for the Lifeline credit on your home landline or your cell phone — but not both. If you receive the Lifeline credit on your home phone and decide to move it to your cell phone, the credit will stop appearing on your home phone. If you decide to move it back, the process could take a few months, and you will not receive your credit during that time. Before moving your Lifeline credit to another phone, please contact your local telephone company where you have your credit now. More questions about Lifeline? Contact us at the phone number listed on Page 4.

Age does not matter

‘Cyber-Seniors’ shows technology’s power to connect generations By Noble Sprayberry


he documentary film “Cyber-Seniors” follows the effort to

connect generations through technology. The film’s success

Photo courtesy of Cyber-Seniors.

created a campaign to encourage seniors to better use the Internet and social media. For director Saffron Cassaday, a The film “Cyber-Seniors” drives home the point that senior adults can use technology — whether it’s emailing, video chatting, streaming videos or even taking selfies.

Q: What was your link to the topic, and why did you choose to make this film? A: When my two younger sisters were in high school, they started a community service project called Cyber-Seniors. It was small-scale, just them and a few of their classmates visiting a local retirement residence a couple of days a week to teach computer lessons. They got the idea because our grandparents were 80 years old when they learned to use the Internet for the first time. It changed their lives and our relationship with them. Q: Going into the project, what was your goal? A: In the beginning, we thought of it almost as a social experiment. What happens when you put these two groups, seniors and teenagers, together in front of a computer? What we found was that a program like this can really positively impact the lives of senior citizens.

Q: How long did it take before the technology started to click? A: Right off the bat, we could already see magic starting to happen. In the first few lessons, we witnessed a series of “ah ha” moments. The seniors’ eyes would light up, and they would lean in close to the computer screen with awe each time they discovered something new. Q: It’s striking how quickly some seniors embraced the technology, particularly Facebook. How did you move beyond that? A: The introduction to YouTube really brought some of the seniors out of their shells; we even witnessed a few sing-alongs. As the lessons continued, we began to see the generation gap narrow and friendships develop. Q: Aside from friendship, what were the seniors getting out of this program?

Toronto native, the project was both personal and informative.

A: In the beginning, we didn’t know how easy it would be for seniors to learn this new skill. We didn’t know how it would benefit them, or what kinds of things they would be drawn to online. Seniors who were in the habit of learning new things had an easier time catching on, and we started to realize how important lifelong learning is to health and vitality in one’s older years. Q: Having access to all the information the Internet has to offer must be empowering. What were the reactions of the seniors? A: When you can’t move around as much as you once did, the Internet can be used to make day-to-day tasks like banking and shopping easier. But, the No. 1 motivator for most of the seniors was the ability to connect with family and friends around the world. 

For resources to help introduce technology to seniors or for more information about the documentary, visit January/February 2016 | 3



On milk and bad days


y family often opens up this magazine wondering if I’ve used an experience from the wonderful world of family to make some bizarre point. After all, who writes a column inspired by a hair on the bathroom sink? Right? By the way, I almost got in trouble over that one. Susan worried she would sound like a bad housekeeper. On the contrary, she is the best and that’s another lesson learned. I do not specifically remember evaluating a girl’s housekeeping philosophy back in my dating years. Wow, was I fortunate. I ended up with the best in yet another example of how FRED JOHNSON often the Good Lord takes care of me most when I don’t even know Executive Vice President and General Manager I need it. My latest observations are twofold and, once again, come from recent events around the house. Certain details have been changed, obscured or arranged in such a way as to protect certain individuals, including me, from too much embarrassment and also to promote continued peace and harmony around the Johnson household. The first incident is tied to a certain gallon of milk which failed to make the journey from grocery store checkout to refrigerator shelf in the expected manner. The second lesson is related to the importance of being considerate. Strictly speaking, these events were not in any way related. Whether they fit together here will be some indication of my writing ability. So here goes. First of all, if you know you bought a gallon of milk that does not show up when you get home, do not automatically assume it is still sitting at the grocery store. That is too risky. If you are wrong, you don’t want to find the milk later while attempting to figure out what in the world has died in your car. Remember, everyone makes mistakes. One key to success is knowing for sure when and how you goofed up and making sure that inattention doesn’t make it worse. You can also put it this way. If something doesn’t “smell” right, it probably isn’t. The longer you wait to figure out what’s wrong, the worse it may be. The second lesson comes from a very tough day at work. During the stress I neglected to be as considerate of my sweetheart as I should have been. She effectively communicated this point to me. Now, gentlemen, allow me to share a great truth with you. If your wife legitimately suggests to you that you have screwed up, there is absolutely no wisdom in getting mad at her and pouting, even if you have had a really bad day. Such an approach will not improve the situation. Fortunately, a hallmark of my very happy 35-year marriage is good communication. Susan did what she usually does when I pout. She made sure I understood the issue and waited for me to get my act together. I did so rather abruptly. Less than 24 hours later during a very routine hospital visit, I encountered several young teenagers undergoing cancer treatments. Songwriters Brad Paisley, Lee Miller and Kelley Lovelace express this perspective in their song “One of Those Lives:” “It’s been one of those days for me but for them it’s been one of those lives.” My frustration over a bad day instantly disappeared in a sea of perspective. God has a way of getting my attention, and I am grateful for it. How this is supposed to fit together is really simple. Whether in my job or in my personal life, if something doesn’t show up or happen as expected, I need to do my best to find out why. If something doesn’t smell right, I need to get to the bottom of it and not just hope it goes away. If there is a real problem, I need to be looking for solutions, not whining because I’m frustrated or think I’ve been treated unfairly. If I take the time to objectively look around, reasonable perspective usually follows quickly. It’s really the only option for life is too short to take things for granted, especially the most important things of all.  4 | January/February 2016

VOL. 20, NO. 1

Connected is a bimonthly magazine published by Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, © 2016. It is distributed without charge to all customers of FTC.

“We Keep You Connected”

FTC is a member-owned corporation dedicated to providing communications technology to the people of Northeast Alabama. The company has more than 15,000 access lines, making it the state’s largest telecommunications cooperative. Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc. P.O. Box 217 • 144 McCurdy Ave. N. Rainsville, AL 35986 Telephone: 256-638-2144 BOARD OF TRUSTEES Randy Wright, President Flat Rock Exchange Gary Smith, Vice President Fyffe Exchange Danny R. Richey, Secretary Geraldine Exchange Lynn Welden, Treasurer Bryant Exchange Kenneth Gilbert Pisgah Exchange Gregg Griffith Henagar Exchange Randy Tumlin Rainsville Exchange Produced for FTC by:

On the Cover: North Sand Mountain High School Guidance Counselor Angie Bain helps students like Lexi Dishroon prepare for college well before their senior year. See story Page 12.

Don’t throw away your old phone books! New directories will arrive in February. But when you get your new directory, please don’t throw your old one in the garbage. Recycle it! Area schools are collecting phone books through March 4. Best of all, participating schools receive 25 cents for every old FTC directory collected and can use the money toward anything it needs. Please pitch in and help raise money for local schools and keep tons of waste out of our landfills. Let’s make this the largest phone book recycling drive ever!

Don’t forget: The last day to turn in your old directories is March 4!

›› FTC and FRS scholarship opportunities Each year, FTC offers two $2,000 scholarships to students in its service area: one to a deserving high school senior and the other to a student enrolled in college. Applications can be obtained from guidance counselors or from www.farmerstel. com. Return completed applications to the FTC business office by 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 10. In addition, the Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) annually awards 30 scholarships worth $2,000 each to high school seniors across the nation. If a student from the FTC service area is chosen, FTC will provide an additional $500, making the scholarship amount $2,500. FRS gives preference to students who plan to work in rural communities after graduation. Return completed applications to the FTC business office by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17. To be eligible, at least one parent or legal guardian must be a customer and have active service with Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative or its affiliate.

Did you know SmartHub is the most convenient way to pay your FTC bill? It’s true. You can access real-time account information 24/7 from your smartphone or computer with SmartHub. You can view and pay your bill, set up automatic payments, report a problem and much more. There are no checks to write, no stamps to buy and no trips to the mailbox or office to make the payment. SmartHub is also your link to TV Everywhere, giving FTCtv subscribers access to network programming on their smartphone, tablet or other Internetconnected devices. SmartHub is just one way that FTC makes doing business with them a little more convenient. Learn more by visiting www. and clicking on “SmartHub” in the top right corner of the screen.

High school sophomores and juniors could win a trip to D.C. through the FRS Youth Tour to eptional high school students FTC is searching for two exc the of ington, D.C., in June as part represent our area in Wash rvice. Se al Rur by the Foundation for FRS Youth Tour sponsored e of than 18 years old at the tim Attendees must be younger the trip. The tour includes: our nation’s capital ZZ All-expenses-paid trip to other landmarks ZZ Tours of the Capitol and oricials, talks from speakers, opp ZZ Meetings with elected off er oth d across the country an tunities to meet teens from exciting activities

Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative

>> See your gui dance counse lor for applications and an information packet. Or, visit Ap p l i ca tions must be received by Tuesday, Marc h 1. >> For more in formation, cont act Kim Williams at 25 6-638-2144 or email kwilliams@staff .farmerstel .com . To be eligible, at least one parent or legal guardian be a customer must and have active service with Fa Telecommunica rmers tions Cooperative or its affiliates.

January/February 2016 | 5

The Road to Equality By Anne Braly


he civil rights movement Americans, and it contin-

ues today in cities across the U.S. But it all began in the South, where a road trip marches through cities where many put down their lives to achieve freedoms never before known. History is not always a comfortable ride through the ages. Oftentimes, it’s met with uncomfortable truths. Here are four destinations that keep that history alive, lest we ever begin to forget.

Photo courtesy of National Civil Rights Museum.

has affected generations of

Lorraine Motel marquee • Memphis, Tennessee

ATLANTA, GEORGIA Atlanta was in the heat of action during the civil rights movement. Like many large Southern cities, it saw its share of protests, marches and boycotts. Visitors to Atlanta can relive the moments that led up to equal rights for all by touring the International Civil Rights: Walk of Fame, walking “alongside” leaders of the movement. The outdoor passage features granite and bronze footprints of men and women influential in the struggle, such as Rosa Parks, Reverend Ralph Abernathy, former President Jimmy Carter, Justice Thurgood Marshall and dozens more. The walk is at 450 Auburn Ave., in the Sweet Auburn Historic District, a stretch of road that includes Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home.

Tech-Savvy Traveler: Make the most of those hours behind the wheel and consider using audiobooks to learn about the history of wherever the road takes you. Books on tape are now books on mobile devices, thanks to apps like Overdrive and Audible. Download a book to your digital device over Wi-Fi at home and then take those stories with you on the road. Listening to “Death of a King” by Tavis Smiley would provide context before touring the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. 6 | January/February 2016



Photo courtesy of The International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.

MLK Walk of Fame • Atlanta, Georgia Where to eat: Busy Bee Cafe (810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) is remembered as a gathering place for civil rights leaders in the 1960s and remains a favorite place for Atlantans to get their fill of some of the city’s best fried chicken, oxtails, broccoli casserole and collard greens.


Photo courtesy of The Rosa Parks Museum.

160 miles from Atlanta via I-85 When seamstress Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery in 1955, she knew she was making a statement, but most likely had no idea it would help launch a movement destined to become one of the strongest campaigns for equal rights. The formation of the Montgomery Improvement Association, which chose a young Martin Luther King Jr. as its president, was spawned by Parks’ initiative. Today, visitors to Montgomery may tour The Rosa Parks Museum (252 Montgomery St.), which, through the use of visual effects, offers a glimpse of the energy and emotion of the bus boycott struggle, along with exhibits and a large auditorium that hosts lectures and performances.

Where to eat: Chris’ Hotdogs (138 Dexter Ave.) King used to come in, buy a paper and visit with the owners when he was pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. And it was a bus stop for Rosa Parks, so she would come in and buy hot dogs. African-Americans could not dine in, so they had to order it to go as this was a whites-only establishment at that time. Chris’ became one of the first restaurants to welcome blacks into its dining room following passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.


92 miles from Montgomery via I-65 1963 was a watershed year for the civil rights movement in Birmingham. In April, Martin Luther King Jr. sat in jail. Protestors marched in the face of fire hoses turned on full force at Kelly Ingram Park. And on Sept. 15, four young black girls were killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. Birmingham was a chaotic canvas splattered with strife and violence. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (520 16th St. N) is where visitors can relive these moments in history. A replica of King’s jail cell, a robe from the KKK, a burned bus, as well as glimpses into the daily lives of African-Americans, especially during their struggle for equal rights, are features that can be seen. A stroll through Kelly Ingram Park, adjacent to the 16th Street church, is a ghostly reminder of the violence and hatred witnessed there.

Where to eat: Mrs. B’s on Fourth (328 16th St.), serving classic Southern fare cafeteria-style, is an easy stroll from the Civil Rights Institute. Favorites: fried chicken, collards, mac ‘n’ cheese and homemade banana pudding.


239 miles from Birmingham via I-22 and US-78 On April 3, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. gave what would be the last speech of his life at the Mason Temple. The next evening, as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel speaking to colleagues, he was shot and killed. King was 39 years old. Today, his room at the motel, one of just a handful of integrated motels in the late 1960s, has been preserved as a memorial to King. Blood stains mark the concrete balcony to this day. In 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum (450 Mulberry St.) was built around it and features “Exploring the Legacy,” an exhibit that includes never-before-seen evidence surrounding the King assassination. Newly finished renovations have increased the number of multimedia and interactive exhibits. “We want people to understand what the movement was about. The people who fought for our civil rights were young and strived to make our lives and communities better,” says Faith Morris, director of marketing, governmental and community affairs at the museum. “And we invite our visitors to join the movement. To take a stand and be a part of social change.” Morris says the museum brings the movement to life and helps give a focus of national and global understanding unlike any other museum of its kind. Where to eat: The Four Way (998 Mississippi Blvd.). Nothing but legendary soul food is served here, and what makes it even more so is the fact that King dined here whenever he came to town. His favorite choices were the fried catfish and lemon meringue pie, and it’s still made and served just like it was in the 1960s. 

Rosa Parks Museum • Montgomery, Alabama January/February 2016 | 7

By Melissa Smith


delicate gold band has been on Nell Durham’s finger for 74 years. Her husband, Wilfred, placed the ring there on Feb. 1, 1942, in a little Methodist church on North Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland.

rham will Wilfred and Nell Du le up co e ill sv in Ra b. 1. anniversary on Fe

8 | January/February 2016

th wedding

celebrate their 74

She’s never taken it off. The Durhams, who live in Rainsville, have seen many changes throughout the years, but the one thing that has remained constant is their love and devotion for one another. Now, they live in their home on Everett Road, built in 1949 by Wilfred and his father-in-law. “Her daddy sawed every piece of lumber in this house,” Wilfred says. The couple bought the 41 acres — with a house they tore down to make room for their own — for $4,150. They raised both of their daughters, Kyna and Gena, in this home, and have welcomed five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren throughout their lifetime. Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative

LOVE AND WAR The couple met in 1940 during a blind date with friends. At the time, Wilfred was running a grocery store in Fyffe, and Nell worked as a beautician. “I would run the store from daylight until dark for one dollar a day,” Wilfred says. “I managed to buy a 1934 Ford V8 for $110, and that’s what we did most of our dating in.” After dating for two years, Wilfred decided it was time to propose to Nell. “I didn’t have any complaints, and evidently, she didn’t have too many,” Wilfred says. So in the car on the way to her house one night, he asked her to marry him. She said ‘yes’ on one condition: “He had to have a job,” Nell says. “She fell for it anyway,” Wilfred says, laughing. “She was about the only gal I had ever dated. She knew I was green, and she grabbed me.” Following up on Nell’s requirement for marriage, Wilfred went to Baltimore in search of a job. He was hired at the Glenn L. Martin aircraft company in 1942. Nell soon followed and also got a job at the same company. The two were married in a private ceremony on a Sunday morning, before the church service began. Nell wore a smart, ivory suit trimmed with fur, and Wilfred wore a tailored suit and tie. They were both 21. “We didn’t know a soul there,” Nell says. There was no elaborate service or reception, just the two of them and the minister. Afterward, their landlady made a wedding dinner for them to celebrate. In 1944, Wilfred was drafted to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Nell was by his side on each new assignment. They went from Maryland to Illinois, Oklahoma, Florida and back to Baltimore. He was discharged in 1946. “We had been up there (in Baltimore) for a few years, and one day I said, ‘Well, do you want to move back to Alabama?’” Wilfred says. “She said, ‘Yeah, can we go tomorrow?’”

LASTING LOVE Soon, the couple moved back to Sand Mountain, the place they have always called home. Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative

The Durham s reminisce a bout their life together as they pour throug h an old photo album .

After helping his father-inlaw finish building their house, Wilfred worked as a carpenter and eventually taught construction in Rainsville at the Skills Center. “I used to work 16 hours a day, but now I just sit in that cotton-pickin’ chair watching the birds,” Wilfred says with a smile. He also walks 2 miles a day. Nell worked in the home and also tended to the broiler houses that were once on their property. They attend Chavies Baptist Church every Sunday they are able, where Nell sings in the choir. But, even though the couple has been together for what most people call a lifetime, they say there really isn’t a special secret to making a marriage last. “When Nell and I got married, there was no question if it would be permanent,” Wilfred says. “You didn’t get divorced back then, but nowadays, people get married for trial and error.” “You have to work on it, I’ll tell you that,” Nell says. “We don’t have much, but we’ve been blessed with good health. Money can’t buy you good health.” Marriage is certainly not something to be entered into lightly, or without much preparation.

ly one taken of the This photo is the on their wedding day. dashing couple on

“I tell you what, they better know what they’re doing. There’s nothing in particular, but life is short as is it. They better make the best of it,” Nell says. “Life is just what you make it. You can be happy or miserable.” They have certainly followed their own advice and are looking forward to another year together. “He hasn’t left yet, so I guess we’ll just hang on,” Nell says, laughing.  January/February 2016 | 9


Cyndi Spivey

Grace + Beauty A Q&A with Cyndi Spivey, a blogger from Kentucky who inspires women over 40 to look and feel their best. Topics include makeup, skin care, fashion, faith and more.

Check out her blog Q: What will readers find at your blog? Cyndi Spivey: I share wearable fashions for women over 40, taking current trends and showing them how to wear them in everyday life. I also share makeup tips and encourage women to live a more healthful lifestyle. Most importantly, I share my journey with Christ and encourage women to know that true beauty begins on the inside. Q: Why did you become a blogger and how has it changed your life? CS: I was introduced to blogging in 2009 by my mom. She started following a few blogs and then encouraged me to start my own blog. My mom passed away in September 2009, and my blog is dedicated to her. I was a dental hygienist by profession but quit at the beginning of this year to become a full-time blogger. I love that I can make money doing something I’m passionate about. Q: Now that you’re in your 40s, how has your style evolved since you were in your 20s, from your clothes to your makeup and hair? CS: I’m a product of the ‘80s, so as you can imagine, my style has changed a lot. I think I’ve evolved because I have learned what clothes look best on my body type. I take better care of my skin and try to 10 | January/February 2016

use chemical-free makeup and skin-care products. And my hair is definitely not as big as it was when I was in my 20s. Q: What is the biggest mistake women make with their makeup as they age? CS: As we age, our makeup needs to change, too. Some women wear the same makeup they did in their 20s! As we age, we should stay away from anything that shimmers – it will show your fine lines, and dark lipstick — it ages you. Also, make sure you fill in your eyebrows. I use a dark brown eye shadow to help make them look more natural. Q: Is there a certain age where women should transition into more “mature” clothing, or is a “you’re-only-as-youngas-you-feel” philosophy OK? CS: I wouldn’t call it mature clothing, but I do think it’s important as we age to have a good basic wardrobe that is classic and timeless. These are clothes that I will spend a little more money on: a goodfitting pair of jeans, a classic pump, a blazer and a white-collared blouse, just to name a few. Q: Your blog is all about feeling good inside and out. Can a positive outlook on life make us look better? CS: Absolutely. A positive outlook can

help us feel better, but for me, it’s more than a positive outlook. Inner beauty begins with my relationship with Christ. I have more than a positive outlook; I have hope in Jesus Christ. 

Other fashion blogs you might like: nn This blog will give you ideas on how to put together great outfits, even on a budget. The Greensboro, North Carolina, blogger also writes about doit-yourself projects, including turning last year’s clothes into this year’s fashions.

nn Here you’ll find a blogger from Lexington, Kentucky, who makes her way through life one outfit at a time — and she loves to accessorize them. Her endless ideas will make you sparkle.

Using the phone to market your business By Rieva Lesonsky


ith more and more customers contacting companies online, it may seem as if your business phone no longer matters. But if you aren’t taking advantage of the many ways your company’s phone can be used as a marketing tool, you’re selling your business short. Try these tips for using your phone to market your business.

 GET A TOLL-FREE PHONE NUMBER No one wants to spend money calling a business. If you serve customers outside your local area code, a toll-free number makes them more likely to call you. Tollfree numbers also create the impression your business is professional and successful, even if you only own one location. Obtaining a toll-free number that spells out a relevant word is less important than it used to be, but it still helps. Depending on your industry and brand, it can also inject humor and reflect personality — such as junk removal company 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

 USE ON-HOLD MESSAGING CREATIVELY Don’t let customers sit in silence when on hold. Create on-hold messaging that

educates customers about your business, products and services, as well as entertains them. Search online and you’ll find many companies that can script, record and produce custom on-hold messages for your business, interspersed with a wide range of music.

Here are some ideas for what to include:

• Tips related to your business: A landscaping service could offer seasonal tips for garden care. For example: “Spring is here, so don’t forget to aerate your lawn — or have Spring Green do it for you!” • Information about new products or services: “Are you trying to save water? Spring Green now offers a full line of water-wise plants, plus xeriscape design services.” • Answers to frequently asked questions: For example, if prospects frequently call you for price quotes, offer general information, such as, “Our weekly lawn-care service starts as low as $79 a month.” • Special offers, sales or events: “Our yearly Annuals Extravaganza is here! During the month of April, save 25 percent off all annuals.”

• Interesting, funny or surprising facts: “Did you know the world’s biggest dandelion grew 14 feet high? Keep your weeds under control with our weekly service.” • And always include a call-to-action. “Ask about our…” or “Make an appointment to…” Don’t overwhelm customers with too much information. Think in terms of quick “sound bites.” Record a three- to sixminute on-hold message loop, long enough that customers don’t end up hearing the same thing over and over. Keep your brand in mind. The music, tone of voice and information used in your on-hold messaging should reinforce your business brand, as well as appeal to your target customers. For instance, a child-care center might record its message with a warm, soothing motherly voice and play children’s music. Use these tactics to transform your business phone from a ho-hum necessity into a marketing powerhouse.  Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz. This article first appeared on Used by permission.

January/February 2016 | 11

Life beyond high school Counselors help students prepare for college By Melissa Smith


hen Angie Bain graduated from North Sand Mountain High School in 1982, there were 74 students in her class. “Only four of us went to college,” she says. “The mindset back then was on going to work, not college.” As a high school guidance counselor at her alma mater since 2010, she’s spent the last several years trying to change that way of thinking. And she’s had tremendous success. Each year, Bain sets a goal to have every single student apply to either a four-year university, community college or other technical certification program. “If I can get them a certificate, they can go from making minimum wage to earning $25-$30 an hour as welders and that kind of thing,” Bain says. But getting students to apply begins well before their senior year. In fact, at NSM students sign a graduation gown before the start of their freshman year, and those same gowns are hung in the school hallways as a reminder of each student’s commitment to graduate. At the same time, these students learn about the school’s honor graduate program — an elite program for students who take some of the hardest classes, have at least 100 hours of community service (25 hours per year) and are involved in at least two extracurricular activities each year. “We wanted to find a way to make the cream rise to the top,” says Bain.

MILLION-DOLLAR MINDSET In addition to the goal of having every student apply for college or trade school, North Sand Mountain also sets an annual goal for scholarship monies earned by students: $1 million. With about 70 seniors per graduating class, that averages out to around $15,000 per student. Last year, that goal was met and exceeded at $1.4 million 12 | January/February 2016

Guidance Counselor Angie Bain’s (standing) goal is to have 100 percent of NSM’s graduating class continue their education beyond high school. Here a group of students learn more about Chattanooga State Community College.

Tatum Atchley receives a pin to wear after completing an online application. awarded to the seniors. The hallway to Bain’s office has been dubbed “Celebration Hallway” and is filled with wall-to-wall posters of the last several graduating classes and their total scholarship earnings. The students whose scholarship earnings contributed to that to-

tal are featured as well. “We are shameless in promoting them when they achieve,” Bain says. The names of students who are awarded scholarships are submitted to the local newspapers, and their photos are displayed on televisions throughout the school and on the school’s social media sites. Such tremendous effort by the students deserves an equally outstanding send-off. “Our graduation is unlike any other school around,” says Bain. “The entire community shows up to support them, and we end with a huge fireworks show. It’s not just a graduation — it’s a celebration.”

GO GREEN Sylvania High School has also had to think outside the box to keep students motivated to graduate and to plan for more than high school. Guidance counselor Carrie Atchley says their “Going Green” initiative has had an impact. They use Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative

Checklist for parents

Sylvania High School Guidance Counselor Carrie Atchley helps senior Tiger Frazier research college admissions deadlines. upperclassmen and the buddy system to encourage freshmen and help them adapt to high school. Students also make a fouryear plan and choose a career pathway. Their elective courses are then based around the pathway they choose. Some students change their mind each year, and that’s all right, says Atchley. “The goal is to get them thinking about the future,” she says. “It’s OK to change their mind.” Atchley says many students reach their senior year with no real knowledge of the true cost of college and why scholarships are so important. “We’ve also had colleges come in and fill out a cost worksheet with the kids, so they can see the cost of classes and utilities,” Atchley says. “Then they realize they really won’t get any money unless they fill out applications.” Like Bain, she schedules time during the school year for FAFSA assistants to help students apply for financial aid and has several college admissions reps come by the school as well. Atchley has a unique way of communicating information like this with her students. She uses a cellphone reminder app that sends text alerts to students about updates and scholarship information.

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM Both counselors point out that there is no secret formula or recipe to ensure any one student receives a scholarship. “Every school has kids who make good grades,” Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative

says Bain. “Lots of students have a 4.0 GPA and 28 on their ACTs, but you have to set yourself apart.” This is often accomplished by what students do when they are not in the classroom. “We encourage every student to commit to at least 25 hours of community service each year,” says Bain. “And that starts when they are freshmen.” Atchley agrees. “Kids need to be as active as possible with extracurricular activities,” she says. “Community service, sports, clubs, band and even church involvement can help an average student stand out.” Procrastination can be a student’s worst enemy when it comes to college admissions and scholarships. “Students should realize that they can’t wait until their senior year to make good grades and get involved,” says Bain. “If they get started when they are freshmen, by the time they’re seniors, their resume is already written. To me, that’s not a magic formula, it’s just getting started early.” 

Plan college campus visits early on in the application process. Sometimes, what they see on television, or on a game day visit, is completely different than a normal day on campus. Be proactive. Students shouldn’t limit themselves to applying for one or two schools, or applying for one or two scholarships. Help them seek out local scholarship opportunities as well. Don’t let them procrastinate. Students cannot wait until the due date to fill out a scholarship application. Some scholarships require letters of recommendation or a transcript, and most applications require an essay. When they wait until the last minute, they don’t always put their best foot forward. Community service may give students an edge on their competition, and don’t discount the value of something like working a part-time job. If your student has a job, it shows that they are responsible and can handle more than just making good grades. It shows that they are a well-rounded and responsible student. Apply for FAFSA even if you think your student won’t qualify for it. Once they are in college, many scholarship applications will require it, so it’s good to already have the process taken care of.

Websites you need to know about: ƒƒ ƒƒ ƒƒ

January/February 2016 | 13


Chili weather

Hearty chili helps David Bradley get through the cold Kentucky winters.


o stare into the depths of a bowl of chili, with its heady currents of beef, onions, tomatoes and spices, is to understand a certain truth: Chili demands passion.

And it’s with this force that Kentucky native David Bradley, a corrections unit administrator at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in West Liberty, Kentucky, and “a foodie by nature,” creates his chili. “I first remember making chili with my mom when I was around 12 years old,” he says. “It was good, but she would serve it over pasta. I didn’t like it that way, so she would always reserve a regular large bowl for me.” His mother’s love of chili stirred Bradley’s interest in making his own, so he began experimenting, using tips and techniques he’d seen on cooking shows, in cookbooks, and — like any good cook — by trial and error. A pinch of this and a dash of that, tasting, testing and tasting again until it was just right. Then, with a shot of confidence, he entered it in a chili cook-off, an event to benefit a local cancer patient. Even though he knew his chili was good, his win as the “Crowd Favorite” came as a surprise, he says. His chili goes beyond the typical ground beef mixture 14 | January/February 2016

with the addition of ground pork and bacon. “That definitely gives the chili more flavor,” he says. “Not many chili recipes have pork in them.” And here are a couple other secrets to round out the winning mix: • Beer: Not just any brew. Use a hearty ale to give your chili a noted depth of flavor. If all you have on hand is Bud Light, you might as well use water. “If I don’t have any beer on hand, I use chicken stock as a substitute,” Bradley says. If you’re worried about the alcohol, don’t be. It burns off as the chili simmers. • Sugar: Sugar tones down the acidity of the tomatoes and rounds out the flavors very nicely without reducing the savory taste. Chili aficionados are quite opinionated about their preferences when it comes to this all-American meal. In Texas, you’ll most likely find it made with chopped beef rather than ground. And of course, no beans. Up Ohio way, you’ll find it served over pasta. In the South, it’s oftentimes served over rice and most always has beans.

Bradley’s wife and daughter prefer their chili over pasta. And beans? Bradley says he can take them or leave them, but, he says, they do help add protein and help to make the dish more filling. Americans are in agreement when defining the American classic, though. When the cold creeps into your bones,

nothing warms you better than a steaming bowl of chili. “Chili is great comfort food,” Bradley notes. “It contains all the wonderful components that people love about food — the heartiness of beef, the taste of various vegetables and warm, aromatic seasonings that just make you feel good.” 

Food Editor Anne P. Braly is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Prior to pursuing a freelance career, she spent 21 years as food editor and feature writer at a regional newspaper.


to 6 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut 5 into 1/2-inch pieces 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 medium onions, finely chopped 1 dried red chili pepper, finely chopped, optional 1 red bell pepper, chopped 1 green bell pepper, chopped 3 tablespoons chili powder (preferably New Mexico Chili Powder from Williams-Sonoma) 1 tablespoon ground cumin 2 teaspoons dried oregano 1 tablespoon smoked paprika Salt and pepper 1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef 1 pound ground pork 1 cup beer or chicken stock 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed 1 (24-ounce) can crushed tomatoes 1 (24-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice 1/3 cup sugar In a large pot, fry the bacon over medium heat until slightly crispy and browned, then add the garlic, onions, dried red chili pepper (optional), bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, oregano and smoked paprika; season with 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender and seasonings are aromatic. Next, add the beef and break it up with a wooden spoon. Allow beef to start browning, then add the pork. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper to the meat mixture. Break up the pork and brown, making sure the entire meat mixture is no longer pink. Once the meat is browned, stir in the beer and beans. Mix together thoroughly to combine, then add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and sugar. The sugar will round out the flavor and cut down the acidity of the tomatoes. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Taste for seasoning; add salt

A great chili can be enhanced by crackers, onions, cheese, corn chips or sour cream. and pepper, if necessary. Makes about 6 servings. Refrigerate any leftovers. Tastes even better when reheated the next day.


This is David’s mom’s recipe — the one that got him started. 1 1 1 1 2 1

tablespoon olive oil medium onion, finely chopped green pepper, chopped pound ground beef Salt and pepper, to taste tablespoons chili powder jar of Ragu garden-style sauce

2 tablespoons sugar Tabasco sauce, to taste (optional) In a deep skillet on medium heat, add olive oil, onions and peppers and cook until vegetables are translucent. Meanwhile, in another skillet on medium heat, add hamburger and brown. Salt and pepper hamburger to taste. Drain off excess grease. Add hamburger to onions and peppers and combine. Add chili powder and toss to combine with hamburger mixture. Add Ragu sauce, sugar and Tabasco sauce; stir to combine. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Makes 4 servings.  January/February 2016 | 15

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